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Full text of "A search in secret Egypt"

IN THE NAME OF ALLAH!                135
to the twentieth century and the modern spirit, but they know that it need not drink the poison of complete spirit-denying materialism in order to do so. Yet, making all this allowance, the fact remains that the higher classes of Egypt hold to their religion more strongly than the higher classes of Europe and America. The will to believe dwells in the very blood corpuscles of the Eastern man, and he cannot get rid of it, try as he may.
But I will relate what I saw in the office of a friend, as typical of what I saw in both offices and mansions alike. I had occasion to call on him not long before noon and partook of the inevitable glass of Persian tea whilst he dispatched his business, he being a busy man and an Inspector-General under the Government.
The office of His Excellency Khaled Hassanein Bey was perfectly up to date and, save for a large framed Arabic text from the Quran> much like any office in Europe might be. His Excellency sat at a glass-topped table, was constantly using the telephone, and kept his papers in automatic roll-shuttered filing cabinets.
Just before noon another visitor called, one of his own inspectors in fact, and a few minutes later His Excellency asked:
"You have no objection if I say my prayers now?" and of course I reassured him on the point.
Rugs were unrolled, both men slipped off their shoes, and prostrated themselves in the usual manner. For fully a dozen minutes they were occupied with their prayers, while clerks went on working, messengers entered, left papers, and departed in an atmosphere of complete unconcern* The two prayed as men who were utterly alone, utterly in ignorance of my presence. When their devotions were ended they rose and resumed their seats at the glass-topped table, and continued to discuss their business.
The thing impressed me intensely, as something which I had never seen in any Western office. Nowhere in Europe or America could one see the like. There, at midday, men would begin rushing out for lunch; here, in Egypt, these two men prayed first and then thought of lunch.
If we in the West redly believed, I thought, then this incident was both an example to be followed and a rebuke to be heeded. But could we carry our faith thus far? I doubted.
It was this point which struck me so much in Egypt. God, Allah, to the Muslim was a very real Being, and no mere